Published online by Cambridge University Press: 03 December 2007
The ribosome is the location of protein translation and therefore a pivotal macromolecular complex for all organisms. The RNA molecules involved in the formation and functioning of the ribosome (rRNA) are partially single-stranded (loops) and partially double-stranded (helices or stems) as a result of pairing of complementary regions in either their own or other rRNA subunits. This pattern provides the rRNA with a secondary structure crucial for its functionality. The stability of these secondary structures is mediated by their base compositions: a helix rich in G-C pairs possesses a higher thermodynamic stability than an A-T rich counterpart. However, the base composition of these structures is neither homogeneous throughout the molecule nor throughout the demosponge taxa. Here, we present patterns of biased nucleotide composition in demosponge 28S rDNA. We analyse their correlation in respect to environment and taxonomy. We find significantly higher G+C contents in haplosclerid demosponges compared to other orders and investigate evidence for an association between water temperature and rRNA base composition in demosponges.